Undiscovered by Europeans until the 16th century, the Galapagos Islands holds a central position in modern history as the birthplace of the theory of evolution. Join fellow alumni on the deluxe Isabela II for a wondrous journey to one of the most biologically unique places on earth. Each island in this volcanic archipelago has species that are exquisitely adapted to the available food sources and surrounding environments: the marine iguana, which eats mostly algae and is the only sea-going lizard in the world; the flightless cormorant, whose vestigial wing feathers are testament to the abundance of its preferred food; and the Galapagos tortoises, some species of which were hunted to the brink of extinction by 18th- and 19th century whalers. You can also see how species have evolved to interact with each other - certain Darwin's finches have developed a symbiotic relationship with land iguanas, who will obligingly raise themselves up from the ground so that the birds can more easily pluck parasites from their bellies. Because the human presence is still relatively minimal, many of the animals are remarkably unafraid of visitors. This will allow you to observe and photograph them at very close range, either sitting quietly in the midst of a colony of tropical penguins or snorkeling with inquisitive and playful sea lions.
Day 1: En route / arrive Quito, Ecuador
Day 2: Quito
Day 3: Quito / Flight to Baltra / Santa Cruz
Day 4: Floreana
Day 5: Espanola
Day 6: San Cristobal
Day 7: San Cristobal / Flight to Guayaquil, Ecuador
Day 8: Guayaquil / Depart for U.S.
Optional five night post-tour: Machu Picchu
**Itinerary and pricing subject to change up until date of brochure publication**
Guests should be sure-footed on stairs and able to walk at least one mile on rocky, volcanic, and uneven ground. Also be comfortable managing beach landings and boarding small vessels, from shore and the deck of the boat. You will experience varying altitudes.
Celia Chen is a Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth College. She received a B.A. from Dartmouth (Class of '78), a M.S in Biological Oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island, and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Dartmouth. Dr. Chen is an aquatic ecologist whose research has focused on the fate and effects of metal contaminants in aquatic food webs, particularly the global contaminant mercury. She has studied lakes throughout the northeast US and estuaries from Maine to Maryland. She also has led collaborative efforts to translate scientific research for policy-makers and the public. Dr. Chen teaches undergraduate classes in marine biology and ecology and coral reef ecology and has been working at Dartmouth since 1994.